The scene downtown continues to percolate after the announcement earlier today that Radiohead would be playing a surprise concert in support of Occupy Wall Street at 4 p.m. OWS says they were hoaxed and that Radiohead was never involved; via our Rosie Gray, Spokesman Patrick Bruner says he’s conducting an internal investigation to find out what happened. Regardless, people’s interest in what’s happening hasn’t seemed to wane, and may be greater than ever. Earlier today the organization’s site was down because they were getting “slammed with visitors,” OWS tweeted.
Barbara Ross, a long-time volunteer for Time’s Up, who’s currently at Zuccotti Park, told us, “It is buzzing down here! We are going to need to expand the park to hold the massive amount of people that are planning to come. Union endorsements are coming in as well.” Ross estimates a thousand or more will participate in the protest effort today, and “over the weekend, thousands.” Gray, reporting from the scene, says there are about 700 people there, possibly 1,000, including various labor unions.
Protesters are holding a general assembly, then gearing up for a rally against police brutality at 1 Police Plaza at 5:30 p.m. (At the time of this post, 526 were listed as attending on the event’s Facebook page.) Afterward there’s a Critical Mass ride to Union Square, “where we will once again have the sound bike and we will be joining forces with the radical activists of Liberty Plaza,” according to Ross.
This is not the first show of support or involvement from Time’s Up and Critical Mass — Ross says they’ve been involved since the beginning, and she herself has stayed overnight at Zuccotti Park for five or so days. Their show of support is in solidarity but also practicality, she says. “We can help out with bikes, move things, bring things in and out, and help with communication.” Ross also does a lot of documenting, including of possible police misconduct, to use later if there are any legal cases. “It’s easier to do on a bicycle,” she says.
In terms of “police misconduct,” she told us, “the police use intimidation. They circle the whole park with police. They stand there and watch all day and night; it’s very intimidating. It’s a way of preventing us from assembling. The worst of [alleged police brutality] was on Saturday, but I’ve seen brutal arrests since the second day; people being slammed to the ground. The level of force is way out of control.”
Here’s one of Ross (in the green) documenting arrests, with footage by Mobile Broadcast News:
As for tonight, “At 1 Police Plaza, we’re going to be part of the bike contingency there, and then make it a Critical Mass ride to bring attention to the issues,” she said. “I am so excited about the show of support. The last couple days we’ve had celebrities, politicians, now we’re having the unions. We’re really grateful.”
Ben Shepard, another long-time Time’s Up volunteer, told us, “Some of us in Time’s Up are sponsoring bike rides, dance rides such as we did at midnight last night. Others are supporting the position statements coming from the General Assembly and others such as myself are posting blogs. We are all excited to see what is happening as this movement connects the aspirations of a new generation of activists with those who have been involved with movements for public space and the public commons for many years. Our point is we need public spaces for ideas, debate and mutual aid.”
Here’s video of Thursday night’s bike dance party: